Video presenter. Porsche designer. Stunt driver. Shirt artist. With a resume straight off a car guys' bucket list, Emile Bouret isn't afraid to embrace new opportunities in pursuit of his love for cars and unavoidable passion for racing. Now mainly working as a product specialist and driving instructor for exotic marques like Ferrari and Aston Martin, Emile still enjoys flexing his artistic muscle with awesome designs like "S1mply No Equal2", "Still The One", and "Future Historian".
Emile stepped out of the drivers seat to answer a few questions:
How did your interest in cars start?
My earliest memory as a child involves cars. My father owned the only Toyota 2000 GT in Puerto Rico where I grew up (wish he’d passed that one down!) and was a certifiable car nut himself. As politically incorrect as this sounds today (this was circa 1969-71), I remember we would go out cruising, looking for Jaguar E-Types, Corvettes or Porsches to street race. I vividly remember sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change as my dad pointed to an E-Type on the opposite side of the road, and described its specs in detail. It’s one of the reasons the Series-I E-Type remains one of my all-time favorite cars.
How does your interest show itself?
I’m lucky to be able to say I’ve spent my entire life, professional and otherwise, pursuing my love and passion for cars. As a child I wanted so badly to be a racing driver, I’d draw cars and pretend I was racing them and winning races all over the world. Later, a family friend introduced me to 3-wheeled ATVs, and shortly thereafter I started racing them, turning “pro” as a teenager. I thought I’d make the switch to cars when I was old enough, but my parents interrupted my perfect plan by announcing I’d better get my ass into university to study something after high school. Long story slightly less long, while at university studying engineering, I learned of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. I put together a haphazard portfolio and to my surprise, I got accepted (yeah, after 17 years of drawing cars, I was pretty good at it, but I had zero formal art training). I graduated Art Center in 1992 and worked as a car designer for Mitsubishi, Porsche, Mazda, Swift Engineering and others, until I realized the desire to continue racing was too much to ignore.
While at Art Center, I’d used some of my scholarship money to attend the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School (as it was called back then). While there, I managed to set a student lap record and was encouraged by the instructors to return to the school’s end-of-the-year Graduate Run-Off competition. I borrowed money for my entry fee, signed up, and was lucky enough to win the whole thing, earning a scholarship to race the entire season in Formula Mazdas. With that behind me, and having just resigned as a car designer, I went off to pursue a career as a professional racing driver. I was able to make ends meet (just) for a number of years until I ran out of talent or sponsorship money, depending on whom you ask! As the reality of a forced retirement set in, I started a small industrial design studio from my home that I operated for the next twelve years, designing everything from shoes to cars and all manner of things in-between.
After running into a friend from my racing past, I slowly started transitioning from design work back to driving work (again). At first it was for car manufacturers doing what’s called ride-&-drive programs - teaching sales folks all about new cars - and later at various racing schools. Eventually, I became chief instructor at the Audi Sportscar Experience in Sonoma, CA. Shortly into my stint with Audi, I got a call to host a new TV show doing car reviews, called OnCars. I left the Sportscar Experience and went off to host OnCars, which never quite turned into a TV show. We had a pretty strong following online, doing sideways car reviews well before Chris Harris (whom we’d spoken to about being our European correspondent) became well known for doing exactly that! For two years I had a dream job. I’d receive the keys to a manufacturer’s latest and greatest on a Friday, drive the hell out of it over the weekend, compose a loose script on Monday, shoot video at a racetrack somewhere on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and return the keys on Friday, only to get another set of keys to another fast something. It was a ton of work, with ridiculously long hours, but it was amazing. Just as we were starting our third year, with viewership still on the upswing, our financial partner pulled the plug for inexplicable reasons and I was back to the ride-&-drive / instructor world.
Today I work as an industrial designer for hire, a commissioned fine artist, a stunt driver for TV commercials, shows and movies, and as a driver/facilitator/product specialist for four manufacturers. For Ferrari North America I work as a product specialist and driving instructor, facilitating their new model introductions (doing in-dealer training of sales folks as well) and separately as a driving coach for their Ferrari Challenge series. I serve a similar role for Audi of America and Aston Martin - The Americas, working programs for them throughout North America and in Central and South America (Spanish is my first language).
The other manufacturer I work a lot for is BMW. Having opened their Performance Centre West here in California last year, I’m more than ecstatic to work several days a month at their new facility. As a diehard fan (as well as a customer) of all things BMW M, I love working there as an instructor… especially since it doesn’t involve air travel and I get to occasionally park an M car in my driveway ;) So, with a big apology for the book written above, that’s how the interest has manifested itself throughout my life!
What's in your driveway, and what makes them special?
Ford F-150, B8.5 Audi S4 and, as I type this, an F10 BMW M5 (BMW Performance Center car that needs mileage). The truck is great because it keeps my driving sane and it tows like there’s nothing behind it. The S4 is my wife’s car and driving it “in a spirited manner” is generally frowned down upon. The M5 has nearly 600-hp with the Competition Package, so it’s pretty spectacular right from the factory.
What was your first car? Do you have any sort of brand loyalty?
A 1986 Fox-body Ford Mustang that I later turned into a (barely) street-legal, SCCA World Challenge-spec car after receiving a crate engine from Roush Racing.
What is your dream car?
Either a Ferrari F40 or a LaFerrari. I’ve been lucky enough to drive both, and I love them equally, but in completely different ways. My blood is Ferrari Red, so I’m all about The Red Cars.
What do you do besides designing awesome shirts?
If I’m not working at a racetrack somewhere, I’m either at my home office drawing cars or creating paintings of cars, or at a nearby park with my 14-year old Chihuahua, Daisy terrorizing squirrels.
What are some of your non-car hobbies?
Fitness. I’m a CrossFit junkie, although I refuse to be one of those people who won’t shut up about it!
What have the funds from blipshift helped you accomplish?
They go into my “fun projects” fund, which is currently growing to try and cover the costs of a VLN series race at the Nürburgring.
What are you influenced by as a designer?
In terms of blipshift stuff, for me it’s really just about the cars and their story. As far as the t-shirt art is concerned, I like it to be clean with correct detailing. My favorite type of design is always clean, simple and honest.
What's your favorite blipshift shirt?
"First Responder” with the rear view of a 911 RSR… super cool.
Any advice for fellow artists? How did you find the process overall?
Creating art for screen-printing presents its own challenges, for sure. You’re always limited to fewer colors than you’d like, and your background palette is somewhat limited as well. Utilizing the color of the tee as the primary color within the art is key in my opinion. I’d also advise that artist use good reference material to get the various elements right. Not just the obvious things like the right vents and lights or whatever, but other elements like lighting and reflections. When the tools in your toolbox are limited by the requirements of screen-printing, you gotta get whatever you’re able to put out there in the art correct.
As for the process, the guys and gals at blipshift are awesome to work with, with great suggestions whenever necessary. My wife still laughs at me over how excited I get when one of my shirt designs arrives in the mail. “You’ve designed cars, and that’s just a t-shirt!” Yeah, but it’s a kickass tee shirt that fellow car lovers will be wearing too, which kinda shows approval and validation of my love of cars. Blank stares ensue. She just doesn’t get it… oh well ;)
Thanks for your time Emile, and keep on Apexing Everything!